Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location

Right now we have the computer set up. I like to shoot tethered whenever I'm shooting models on location, so I just have a laptop here with capture one loaded up. And I'm just shooting tethered so that I'm seeing the images as they show up on the computer screen, not on the back of the camera screen. 'Cause the camera screen is so small, it's so tiny, I kind of will sometimes miss details. So I'll think I've got this great shot, but then maybe there's an eyelash doing funny things, and I can't see that on the back of the screen. So first thing what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take, I've got a 16 to 35 mil lens here, and I'm shooting with Canon 5D Mark II, and I'm just going to take a portrait of her, well just a shot of the scene itself, and I'm gonna make sure that my background is slightly overexposed. I'm gonna expose for how I want the background to disappear, basically. She's gonna be a little bit dark, and that's okay, 'cause we're gonna fill this in with flash. But the reason why ...

I'm overexposing my background is so it's easier to cut out. She has nice dark hair, if we have a nice bright background, then the extraction process is gonna be a lot simpler. So I'm just gonna hold this here, one, two, three. And there we go. So I can see here on the back of my screen that the background is nice and light, it's a little bit too bright, and that's totally okay, because then we can fill this in with flash, and we'll get a proper exposure. I'm keeping her in her jacket right now, because there's no point in freezing her out, 'cause it is a little bit chilly out here, but once we get to the shooting part, then I'll get somebody to come along, we'll take her jacket off, and then we'll start posing. And then if we're taking a break, we're gonna get her nice and warm again, and then we'll continue on. So, on my laptop screen, the background was a little overexposed. Downside of shooting with a laptop is you can control the color, but you can't always adjust the contrast on a laptop screen. So on my screen, it looked overexposed, on this TV, it actually looks almost properly exposed, it's overexposed in some spots, but it's not as bright as it looked on my screen. So that just meant that in post-production, once I got into Photoshop and I looked at it, I was like, ah, crap! So then I just adjusted it, but we'll go through all of that later. But in other cases, once again, going forward, so when we were picking the model for this, I was like, okay, so we're gonna be shooting something outdoors, I want a model with dark hair. Because you guys don't want to sit here and watch me cut out hair for three hours, we just don't have that much time. So once again, going forward, okay, this is our limitation. Our limitation is time. So how to we make things more time-efficient? So I this case, get a model with dark hair, shoot her in a light background, the extraction process is gonna be much, much simpler. What kind of metering mode were you using on your camera, and do you use exposure a lot to try and control that really light background? Sometimes I meter, sometimes I don't. In this case, I just didn't want to carry all the gear with me, and I was like, I'm gonna shoot tethered, it's not pouring rain, I can just look at it and eyeball it, and get it, you know, 90% of the way there. So in this case, it wasn't quite as overexposed as my screen was telling me it was, but it's within an allotment that I can easily change that, and I can easily fix it. If I was getting something really specific, I mean if anyone here uses a light meter, I think they've gone the way of the dinosaur for a lot of people, because you can look at the back of your camera or computer, and see your exposure. But if you have a light meter, light meters are incredibly powerful. If you're not able to shoot to a tethered anything, and everything's bright, you can just get a light meter, meter everything, and do the math, and then you'll know what your exposure is. So, it's once again using the tools, right? So if I'm at home and I have my meter with me, then I'll totally use it. But if I don't, it's also, 90% of the time, fine. (laughing)

Class Description

With the right Photoshop know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

Join us for “Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography” and you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


1Class Introduction
2Why You Should Sketch Your Composite
3What to Look for in Your Background
4Posing Your Model
5Communicate with Your Team
6Elements of Compositing
7Learning from Failure & Criticism
8On-Location Safety Tips
9How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo
10Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location
11On-Location Posing
12Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts
13Tips for Culling Images
14Culling Images Q&A
15Preparing Your Image for Composite
16Composite Image Cleanup
17Adding Background Image to Composite
18The Difference Between Flow & Opacity
19Composite Sky Elements
20Using Curves to Color Match
21Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image
22Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color
23Using the Liquify Tool
24Color Theory & Monitor Calibration
25Adding Smoke Layer to Image
26Selective Sharpening
27Crop Your Image
28Goal Setting for Digital Artists
29Review of Location Composite
30Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image
31Base Plate Focus Point
32Base Plate Lighting Tips
33How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image
34Capture On-Location Base Plate Image
35Student Positioning Demo
36Base Plate Sketching
37On-Location Sky Capture
38What to Look for in a Base Plate Model
39Building Composite Model Lighting
40Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching
41Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing
42Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair
43Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques
44Composite Test with Final Shot
45Lighting Setup Overview
46Culling Model Shoot Images
47Adjusting Skintone Colors
48Merging Background with Model
49How to Mask Hair
50Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool
51Creating Shadow Layers
52Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool
53Replacing Sky with Layer Mask
54Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth
55Creating Contrast in Your Composite
56Adding Atmospheric Elements
57Using Particle Shop
58Selective Color Adjustments
59Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches
60Closing Thoughts